“Self care is any action you purposefully take to improve your physical, emotional or spiritual well being. Too often, we do not make time for sufficient self care because we’re too busy taking care of others.”
Too often, way too often, we do not make time to take care of ourselves, because we are busy taking care of others. This is especially true for mothers. Brenda Ueland expresses this beautifully:
“In fact that is why the lives of most women are so vaguely unsatisfactory. They are always doing secondary and menial things (that do not require all their gifts and ability) for others and never anything for themselves. Society and husbands praise them for it (when they get too miserable or have nervous breakdowns) though always a little perplexedly and half-heartedly and just to be consoling. The poor wives are reminded that that is just why wives are so splendid — because they are so unselfish and self-sacrificing and that is the wonderful thing about them! But inwardly women know that something is wrong. They sense that if you are always doing something for others, like a servant or nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. […]”If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say; ‘Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse!’ you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.”
It’s true, we as mothers tend to put our own needs last, well behind our children’s and our family’s. We are so busy taking care of others, that we tend to lose ourself, our deepest sense of self.
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The course I am presenting is aimed specifically at mothers, because as I said, as mothers, we tend to put our own needs last, well behind our children’s and our family’s. This course offers seven simple exercises to connect with your true, best self.
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We are experiencing a lot of pain out there at the moment. A lot of women that I hear from in workshops and via email are going through hard times right now. Children leaving home, friends and children suffering from addiction, dealing with divorce and all sorts of physical and emotional pain.
An article I wrote, Bouncing Back after Divorce was just published in Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington’s wonderful online resources. Although the topic is bouncing back after divorce, the content, I believe, can be useful in coping with a lot of life’s painful events.
The messages are about taking care of YOU, loving yourself through the pain. It’s not always easy to do, especially as women, we seem to have a hard time doing this. But we can move through the pain, shift does happen!
The coping strategies I talk about in the article are ones that I talk about a lot on this blog:
Re-wiring your brain and paying attention to what you think
We don’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose how to act and learn from these events. Shift really does happen.
I’d like to close with a TED talk about surviving divorce. But like everything else, the coping mechanisms described by Dr. David Sbarra, are applicable to most ‘What Now’ moments. One of his biggest suggestions is getting enough sleep – always really great suggestion!
I’d love to hear how shift is happening for you. I love learning from all of you.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
I recently published an article in Thrive: You can’t pour from an empty cup. Most of us know that is true, but how many of us actively practice replenishing ourselves? I just returned from a retreat for women, and in speaking to the women individually, what I discovered was that the biggest factor that they had to overcome to go on the retreat was the guilt! Guilt for taking the time for themselves and guilt using money exclusively on themselves.
We, especially women it seems, have difficulty taking time for ourselves and prioritizing self-care. It often takes an illness or an accident to persuade us to give ourselves the time and care we need.
In an article by Dr. Susan Biali in Psychology Today, Biali describes feeling incredibly unwell, but continuing to push herself. She had an epiphany, that although she had been teaching people about stress management and self-care for over a decade, she had not been practicing what she preached. She explained that when she finally took time out for herself, it felt like she had woken up after being asleep for a long time. But it’s only when you wake up that you notice you were sleeping
But when we are stressed out, self-care is often the first thing we let go of.
Why is that? Barbara Markway, Phd explains in a different article in Psychology Today a few reasons that that is the case.
Our brains go into fight-or-flight mode and our perspective narrows.
We’re so busy trying to solve problems that we’re stuck in “doing mode
We may not have a “go to” list of self-care activities.
So once we wake up, so to speak, how do we practice self-care, what can we put on our list of self-care activities. For those of us that can, a retreat is a lovely way to have time and space for self. But if that is not an option at the moment, here are a few suggestions:
Focus on the sensations around you — sights, smells, sounds — this helps you be present in the moment.
· Go for a walk and breathe in fresh air.
· Listen to running water.
· Take a hot shower or a warm bath.
Do something pleasurable for yourself.
· Get creative! Do some art, journal or play some music
· Take yourself out for a nice meal
Give yourself some spiritual space
· Practice gratitude — journal about things your are grateful for
· Light a candle and meditate
· Walk in nature
Connecting with others is an important part of self-care.
· Go on a lunch date with a good friend.
· Call a friend on the phone.
· Join a support group.
Caroline Myss asks us: “How do you define taking care of yourself?” Think about that and then as Myss suggest: Create a new self-care practice, starting today.
Remember what Audre Lorde says — self-care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation. Take care of yourself, start today, you are worth it!
To close I’d like to put an invitation out there to ignite a self-care revolution!
Do you ever feel like your inner voice is not your best friend? Do you find that voice telling you that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong? My inner chatter is often telling me that I’m not doing ‘it’ right. It doesn’t matter what ‘it’ is – doing a task, helping someone to do something, even just trying to meditate. I used to think that I was alone in this and that I was just flawed and hopeless. Then I started working with other women in workshops and discovered that almost all of us do this one way or another. It is painful to realize how many of us believe these negative voices in our heads. I wrote about this topic recently on Thrive Global.
Most of us received plenty of negative messages growing up, and usually those messages are blindly accepted and believed. These negative messages from our inner critic create new neural pathways which become embedded in our brains. This becomes negative inner chatter creating limiting beliefs which adversely impacts us in many ways.
A neural pathway is the way that information travels through the neurons, or nerve cells of the brain. We create new neural pathways every time we hear or experience something new. The more we experience something, the more embedded this pathway becomes, and unfortunately, a lot of us have some very negative messages firmly rooted in our brains.
Once those neural pathways are deeply embedded, changing them is not an easy task.
Is there a way to overcome the negative stories that we once heard and now continue to tell ourselves? Is there a way to shift those pathways so that they are less destructive? Yes! There is a practice which you can start using right now, which will bring about changes in the neural pathways that keep you stuck. Using Creative Positive Reframing, you can take limiting beliefs and creatively transform them so they become supportive rather than destructive. You can reframe and create a new perspective on how you think by using these seven tools:
Pay attention — Pay attention to your thought process.
Action: A good way to pay attention to your thought process is to pay attention to how your body feels. You can tell if the thoughts are self-defeating and destructive if they negatively impact your body; for example, a knot in your stomach or a lump in your throat, clenched jaw or tight shoulders.
Practice: Scan your body to check in, notice any tight spots or knots. Observe/pay attention to the thoughts that you are focusing on when you feel tight; think about why you want to change those thoughts; what is the negative impact on your life?
Get the negative out — Write out the negative.
Action: Nature abhors a vacuum. When you cannot get out of a negative thought spiral — write it out. Get rid of the negative to make room for the positive.
Practice: Get negative thoughts out of your head by emptying it out on paper. Think of it as an emotional enema! Write about all the negativity spiralling in your head. Allow a stream of consciousness to flow and let it all come out. And then tear the paper up.
Replace the negative with positive — Use positive statements and questions to replace the negative
Action: Negative self-talk can be replaced by positivity with the help of a series of deliberate affirmations and questions. This creates new neural pathways and frees you from the negative spiral. However, sometimes when we use affirmations that do not feel real, our brain does not believe it, and this can embed the negative even more deeply. For example, if you are struggling to pay the rent and you say to yourself: ‘I am wealthy and have plenty of money for all of my needs’, perhaps your thoughts will rebel with: ‘Well, that’s not true’ — and then will go on to prove how wrong you are, throwing you further down the negative spiral.
Practice: Creative positive statements wherever possible; and try creating questions as well. Research shows that the use of questions instead of statements works effectively. Questions work with the brain’s natural inquisitive nature; pose a question and your brain will work to find an answer, creating more positive neural pathways automatically. So if when you say “I am wealthy” and your brain rebels; try asking for its help by saying something like “Money is coming to me easily and effortlessly. What do I need to do to increase my cash flow?”
Think about the ideal and be clear why you want it — Create an ideal scenario and know why it is important to you.
Action: In order to create new neural pathways and escape the negative spiral, it’s important to have a replacement to start thinking about. For example, if you are stuck in fear about money, and in a negative loop, start thinking about the flip side and create a picture of the ideal.
Practice: Describe your ideal financial situation, be as specific as possible. Have fun with this: let your imagination be your guide. You don’t need to write this out, just tell yourself the story. Picture yourself living with plenty of money. See yourself living the life of your dreams; actually feel how good it feels. And then focus on the why; why is it important? For example, allow yourself really examine why having more money would make a difference in your life. What is the deepest reason you want this to manifest? Keep going deeper and deeper into why you want to achieve this until you feel like you have hit the heart of it. You will know it when you have hit it, there will be an emotional charge linked to it. Allow yourself to feel the depth of that emotion.
Creative visualization — Picture the ideal and embed it in your brain
Action: Creative Visualization is a technique which uses your own power of ‘seeing’ or visualizing something to attain that which you most want, or want to change. It involves using the mind to see that which you want to achieve; or using the mind to change the negative into positive. You already use this technique every day. Unfortunately, we often use it in the negative. The key to visualization is to create a mindset that you already have that which you are trying to attain, and to believe that you deserve the positive result.
Practice: Relax and take time to do this. Close your eyes and let the movie of you having your heart’s desire run in your mind. Enjoy the process. The more you do this, the more deeply embedded this vision becomes.
Stay positive in the process — Keep a positive attitude as you practice
Action: The field of Positive Psychology points out many benefits of staying positive and being happy. Happiness brings social rewards, helps people recover faster from illness, and have more resilience. Happy people feel like they are in control and are empowered and therefore usually feel more confidence, optimism, and a sense of well-being. These are all good reasons to try to remain in a positive mindset, but one of the main obstacles to positivity is that our brains are wired to look for and focus on threats. This mechanism was helpful back when we were hunters and gatherers, but now this mindset breeds pessimism and negativity because the mind tends to wander until it finds a threat. But there are many methods to overcome the brain’s negative bias.
Practice: The most straightforward method is to focus on love and compassion, forgiveness and gratitude. These positive mind-sets shift your focus from the negative to the positive. Even simply thinking about someone you love or something you are grateful for, can help you shift from a negative mindset to a positive one.
Be creative — Creativity helps us shift from the negative to the positive
Action: While you are focusing on shifting limiting beliefs into more positive and supportive beliefs, it is helpful to be creative in the process. An expression of creativity, in any form, can be helpful in shifting our mood and removing us from a negative spiral. Not only that, but repressed creativity can have the opposite effect, and can ultimately express itself in unhealthy ways, such as bad relationships, stress, neurotic or addictive behaviors. Perhaps the most common manifestation of repressed creativity in women is depression, which, of course, only increases the negative downward spiral.
Practice: There are so many ways we can get creative, and they all involve play: start journaling and play with words; get some oil pastels and play with color; go outside, garden, and play in the dirt; learn an instrument, dance, and play with music; cook and play with spices. There is no right or wrong way to be creative. The only important thing is to allow ourselves to connect with our own creativity.
The next time you find yourself falling into a negative spiral, use these seven tools to tackle those limiting beliefs, and transform them so that they are supportive rather than destructive.
I want to close with a wonderful video clip with Lisa Nichols and Marci Shimoff, appropriately entitled: ‘How to Stop Negative Self Talk.’
I’d love to hear about how you get your inner critic to shut up. We all need as much help as possible with that negative committee! And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. And we need to learn to love ourselves first.” ― John Lennon
Self-Love. Why do so many of us find that concept so difficult? One of the most common things that I hear from women in workshops is that they think the worst of themselves and usually have difficulty prioritizing themselves.
Why is it that some people, the Donald Trumps of the world, seem to believe only the best about themselves, while others—perhaps especially women —seize on the most self-critical thoughts they can come up with? “It turns out there’s an area of your brain that’s assigned the task of negative thinking,” says Louann Brizendine, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of The Female Brain. “It’s judgmental. It says ‘I’m too fat’ or ‘I’m too old.’ It’s a barometer of every social interaction you have. It goes on red alert when the feedback you’re getting from other people isn’t going well.” This worrywart part of the brain is the anterior cingulate cortex. In women, it’s actually larger and more influential, as is the brain circuitry for observing emotions in others. “The reason we think females have more emotional sensitivity,” says Brizendine, “is that we’ve been built to be immediately responsive to the needs of a nonverbal infant. That can be both a good thing and a bad thing.”
Interesting that this article was from the August 2008 O Magazine. The comparison to the Donald Trumps of the world is more apt than ever! (Although I would like to point out that there is a huge distinction between narcissism and self-love!) And in these dark and difficult times, when there is a constant reminder of how much is at stake, fear is rampant. So self-love is more important than ever. We need love to conquer the fear that many of us are feeling in response to the political insanity that has gripped the world at the moment.
“There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”
So if we want to stay in a place of love instead of a place of fear, we have to learn to love ourselves first. We cannot pour from an empty cup, we must be filled up. And one way to fill your cup is to prioritize yourself, pamper yourself!
So if you have the time and the inclination, may I suggest a lovely retreat to Bali! Rejuvenate Spa Retreats is offering a stunning 8 day retreat in Bali! You can read all about it here. This is the second annual Bali Retreat my business partner Deb and I have run. It is a phenomenal way to refresh and rejuvenate yourself. And a wonderful way to show yourself the self-love your deserve!
I’ll close with a short sweet video of Oprah Winfrey as she talks about self-love and taking care of yourself.
I’d love to hear how you take care of yourself and practice self-love. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
“That’s all drugs and alcohol do, they cut off your emotions in the end.”
– Ringo Starr
Thank you to all of you that took my survey. I really appreciate it. The survey results reflected what a lot of the research shows. A lot of middle aged women are drinking too much wine and it’s affecting their health and their families.
A few women who took the survey wrote personal notes to me; and most of the notes described the same thing – that the stress of trying to do too much was driving a lot of women to drink too much.
Somewhere along the way, the message that so many women in the 60s and 70s fought for – that ‘A woman can do anything!’ got translated to ‘A woman must do everything . . . and do it well!’ And most of us are holding ourselves up to a pretty high standard. We’re trying to do it all and it’s killing us! Not only are we trying to do it all, but we want to look good while we do it.
A phenomenon nicknamed “drunkorexia,” (Urban Dictionary) is now impacting middle aged women. This phenomenon is an eating disorder compounded by alcohol abuse; it occurs when someone eats less to allocate more calories to alcohol. “Drunkorexia” used to be primarily found on college campuses, but more recently it has become a problem among middle-aged women.
We are pressured by others and indeed pressuring ourselves to excel in every way: professionally; to be sexy wives or partners; be good, diligent mothers; good home makers; be politically and socially engaged; and be beautiful with a great bod as well. The more stressed-out we become, the more we are turning to wine’s socially acceptable and absolutely encouraged numbing out quality to cope. But it becomes a worry when we realise that in reality we are not coping well at all.
I was fortunate today to be interviewed on ‘Breakfast’ – the wonderful morning show on TVNZ.
“Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.”
Carol is a talented artist and writer who also happens to be a wonderful therapist. Do check out her website to find out more about her.
How To Avoid Feeling Homesick For The Self
If I have not been able to be creative, I feel homesick for my Self. I actually feel a physical sense of longing way down deep in the core of my gut. I feel lost. It’s also a feeling that’s reminiscent of my childhood.
When I was a young girl, I couldn’t go away for the night, or I would become homesick. This was a bit inhibiting; but I was sure that if I left home for too long I would be forgotten. I had to go back home to reclaim my space within the family.
As an adult, feelings of homesickness emerge when I forget myself – that is, forget who I am and what I’m about. When I forget me, I need to touch base with my soul, my spirit, so I can reconnect with my Self.
In this crazy, busy time, many of us forget to touch base with our core Self. We forget about our needs, priorities and values. When we aren’t in touch with ourselves, we can’t make effective choices, because there is no Us to turn to for information.
When we are connected to our core, we can make conscious choices. This is so important because all choices need to reflect who we are — our meaning and purpose in life.
Creativity is a terrific way to access our core Self. As we mature, we have different needs and awareness’s and therefore we need to make different choices. Creativity helps us keep in touch with those changes.
I love this quote from Sophia Loren: “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
In general, it is best to pick one creative outlet that you can routinely engage in, to help you touch base with your inner Self. That will be one of healthiest habits you could add to your schedule – even if it is for one half hour, once a week.
Try one of these exercises while asking yourself the question, What is my mission and purpose in this life?
Exercise no.1. Get a journal (with no lines), or a blank piece of paper and then, with your non-dominant hand, write two sentences, one that begins with: “I am a —.” Then write a second sentence that begin with: “My purpose in life is —-.“
Exercise no. 2. Cut out a number of photos, from several magazines, that speak to you. Then arrange these in a pleasing way and glue them to a large piece of cardboard. While looking at the collage, ask yourself: “What does this say about who I am, and what my life mission is?”
Exercise no. 3. On a blank sheet of paper and in a vertical column write the words like this:
Then, beside each time frame write two things you would like to manifest during that time. On a new page, begin with the items in the six months category, and note the first three action steps you need to take to achieve each of these.
Thank you Carol! And now I’d like to close with another She Writes Press fellow author, and one of the founders of SWP, Brooke Warner. If you are thinking about writing your own memoir, Brooke’s book, Green Light Your Book is a must! Here’s a video about it:
I’d love to hear about how you stay connected to your creativity and thus to your self. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.
“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”
― Gloria Steinem
The excitement of possibilities. What a wonderful turn of phrase. And so true!
The excitement of planning often creates more happiness than the event itself. In a recent study in Applied Research in Quality of Life, it was discovered that people are usually happiest planning events, in anticipation. This particular study, quoted in The New York Times found that:
There is a definite connection between anticipation and happiness. The authors of the study, researchers from the Netherlands, interviewed more than 1,500 people, including 974 vacationers, and found that the vacationers felt most happy before their trips.
I believe that that is because of the excitement of possibilities. And I agree with Gloria Steinem (or course I do!) that dreaming is absolutely a form of planning! And at the moment I am awash in this excitement. I am planning and dreaming and planning some more. I am in the process of planning the roll out of my national book tour here in NZ. It’s very exciting. Working closely with my brilliant publicist, Sarah Sparks of Markom PR. We have dates set for several venues in Thames and around the Coromandel Peninsula, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and many points between. Such an exciting time doing all this planning and anticipating . . . once I’m on the road and going full steam ahead some of that excitement may wane, but for now, the dreaming and planning is joyful!
For those of you interested in receiving updates via newsletter, please visit my website: thiswayupbook.com and sign up!
I’d love to hear about your experience around the excitement of possibilities. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
― Alexander Graham Bell
As I get read to leave the US and head back to NZ, I am am filled with so many emotions. Humbled at how incredibly powerful the whole trip was and how much love was shared with me. So very grateful that I had this amazing opportunity. Sad to say good-bye to family and friends here in the US. But so very happy and excited to see my sons and my friends back in NZ. So many emotions all at once.
I decided to make a video about this, rather than write about it this time. Feeling inspired!
I’d love to hear how you handle it as one door closes, often waiting for the next one to open. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
― Joseph Chilton Pearce
I love that quote by Joseph Chilton Pearce. And I’m feeling that a lot at the moment – having to lose that fear – as I see my own stuff out there. This book tour, the interviews, the articles, have forced me to get over that fear of being wrong. I have to be so out there, so transparent. I have nowhere to hide!
In my latest interview with Sally Hubbard, I talk about getting creative and getting into flow to find our inspiration.
“Being creative is much easier than trying to meditate or spend time just being quiet. Then they get their inspiration and their connection to self and they can be in that flow and get their ideas, their inspiration, their juices flowing.”
I’m going to make this post a bit different – this time instead of writing the post, I will attach a podcast. The podcast is an interview with Sally Hubbard, creator of Women Killing It!